Accessing Support at the Disability Services Office (DSO)Registering for academic accommodations, support and services at your college or university disability services office should be done before classes begin. These offices are open year-round. By registering early, your chances of having your accommodations in place when classes begin will be high.
What kind of service does the disability services office provide?
The staff at the disability services office assists students with disabilities in transitioning to the college/university environment in a variety of ways. Given that each student’s needs are unique, services and accommodations in an academic setting are established on an individual basis and based on the documentation of the student’s disability. Please refer to the DSO website at your college or university for a complete list of services and documentation required to register.
The disability services office is responsible for the coordination of academic accommodations and support services for students with disabilities, some of which may include:
- Evaluating the appropriateness of student documentation provided by qualified health practitioners.
- Evaluating accommodation requests or needs on an individual basis, while maintaining academic standards.
- Liaising with faculty, departments, scheduling and examination services, educational development centre, counselling and other student services to ensure that students' needs are met.
- Facilitating the resolution of problems or misunderstandings as they arise between students and faculty/departments.
- Providing information about disabilities, policies and procedures pertaining to students with disabilities to faculty.
- Providing a variety of support services for students with disabilities, such as one-on-one learning support, note-taking, adaptive equipment loans, screening and referral for LD/ADHD assessment.
- A bursary fund for the purchase of disability-related and education-related services and equipment for eligible students.
- Library assistance, such as research assistance, retrieval of books and peer support in library training.
- Upper-year student mentors for first-year students.
- Extended time for exams, special locations for exams, oral exams.
With most universities and colleges, students who have not been previously registered with disability services require a face-to-face appointment. It is best to:
- Contact the disability services office before classes start. You will be asked about the nature of your disability (e.g. hearing, visual, learning, medical/psychological or mobility). This question clarifies with whom you should meet.
- Submit documentation prior to your appointment.
- Review your documentation.
- Explain the processes of the office.
- Discuss disability-related academic supports.
- Create your accommodation plan based on the documentation.
- The appropriate documentation if you have not already delivered it to the office. (See the DSO website at your college/university to clarify the type of documentation you will be required to provide.)
- Your contact information.
- Information regarding your courses (e.g. course name, number and section, instructor and instructor’s email address).
- Some returning students will have to book an appointment with the DSO staff to review their accommodations and sign their accommodations contract.
- Other colleges and universities encourage students who have been previously registered with disability services and who do not require any changes to their accommodation plan, to register by completing an online form.
- Each university and college is different, so it is best to visit the disability services office website, or book an appointment with a staff member to clarify the procedure.
All students must provide current and valid documentation about their learning disability (e.g. psycho-educational assessment, medical documentation) from an accredited diagnosing professional. However, colleges and universities across Canada vary on the type of documentation needed to obtain services at the disability services office.
Documentation should include:
- A copy of your latest psycho-educational assessment, completed within the last 3 to 5 years by a registered psychologist or psychological associate. The report should contain a clear diagnostic statement and should make every effort to identify the underlying psychological processing deficit.
- A detailed description of your functional limitations, in particular those that may affect your academic performance in a college or university setting.
- Always refer to the disability services office website at your college or university for a complete list of appropriate documentation. If you do not have a valid assessment or have not had an assessment, the DSO can assist in a referral to have one completed as needed.